I thought I’d squeeze one last blog entry in before Christmas. Today I blog to you from sunny Simi Valley, where today temperatures were in the 50s…much like New England at the moment. I’m staying with DG’s family for my first Christmas away from home. As I jot this down, DG and her family are busily baking what appears to be hundreds of cookies.
And now I’d like to discuss something else: how little I enjoy flying.
I used to fly fine until a particularly turbulent cross-country flight in spring 2000. My good friend Ruth can attest to the Rainman-like state that flight reduced me to; by the end, I was rocking back and forth, listening to the Beatles’ “Eight Days a Week” on my MP3 player over and over. For the next three years, flying was an exercise in pure terror. The fear finally evaporated on a long return flight from San Francisco in summer ’03, where my hangover more or less forced me to forget about my fears.
Aviatophobia aside, American airline flights are a special blend of extortion, humiliation, and torture, especially for New Englanders. First there’s getting to Logan Airport. Between the tolls, the various tunnels that may or may not be closed due to lowest-bidder contractor errors, the detours, and the fact that at any given time, 40% of all roads in Boston are being torn up and repaved for unknown and obscure reasons, getting to Logan Airport requires the patience of a saint. Given that New Englanders probably represent the other end of the spectrum from your average saint on the patience scale—even lesser-known saints, like St. Erasmus—given all that, I don’t think I need to engage in another extended and incomprehensible exegesis on how awful getting to Logan is.
Once you’ve either squeezed your vehicle between two double-parked SUVs in Logan’s $100-a-day parking garage, or paid your cab driver by drawing from your 401(k)—or simply missed your flight by rolling the bones and taking the T—you rush in to the airport to immediately stand in line for hours to check in. Proving that all technological advances only allow more people to get even more frustrated as before the technology existed, even the automated check-in has hours-long lines these days, as DG and I discovered yesterday.
Then there’s the security check, where you remove every article of metal on your person as well as your shoes so the government can fight the last war. Let’s face it—no one will ever be able to take over a plane with boxcutters ever again. Do I really need to mail the 2″ Swiss Army knife I forgot to take out of my bag back to myself? I just don’t buy the idea that I could secret a large-scale explosive device in my college ring—I would think basic thermodynamics would make that an impossibility.
As someone who doesn’t enjoy the experience of flying, and even dreads it, all of this seems laughable: I have to endure hours of anxious waiting and humiliation before I’m even allowed to undergo the harrowing experience of flight. Of course, even if you’re fine with the actual flying, you still get to endure cramped seating, screaming children, and tasteless snacks. And you pay hundreds of dollars for these delights!
Now, I admit, it’s nice to be able to cross the same distance as Lewis and Clark’s three-year journey in under seven hours. That’s definitely one of the greatest achievements of civilization. But I still think it can be done with a bit more panache.
Anyway, I’m here now and everything’s fine. Really. I can’t wait to fly back home next week.
In other news, be sure to check out The Ed Zone, where Ed has posted a wrap-up of his first year of Zoning. I also destroyed all comers in his latest Mii-identifying contest. I believe I can now safely cross off “Become an excellent identifier of celebrity avatars designed on the Nintendo Wii” from my Life To-Do List. Boo-yah!
Finally, I’d like to wish all my readers—including those of you kind enough to stop by from The Snow Miser’s Cooler—a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!